Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Today is the 30th anniversary of Reagan assassination attempt

This is the famous photo of President Ronald Wilson Reagan of today's 30th anniversary event! President Reagan: today is the 30th anniversary of your assassination attempt, it is a good thing you had a higher being protecting you from harm, you are truly a hero of mine and thank you for being a bold and strong president in the 1980s, you are missed!
The Reagan assassination attempt occurred on Monday, March 30, 1981, just 69 days into the presidency of Ronald Reagan. While leaving a speaking engagement at the Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C., President Reagan and three others were shot and wounded by John Hinckley, Jr. Reagan suffered a punctured lung, but prompt medical attention allowed him to recover quickly. Reagan was the first serving United States president to survive being shot in an assassination attempt. No formal invocation of presidential succession took place, although Secretary of State Alexander Haig controversially stated that he was "in control here" while Vice President George H. W. Bush returned to Washington. Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity and remains confined to a psychiatric facility. Assassination attempt On March 21, 1981, Ronald Reagan, the new President of the United States, visited Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C. with his wife Nancy for a political fundraising event. He recalled, "I looked up at the presidential box above the stage where Abe Lincoln had been sitting the night he was shot and felt a curious sensation...I thought that even with all the Secret Service protection we now had, it was probably still possible for someone who had enough determination to get close enough to a president to shoot him." Speaking engagement at the Washington Hilton HotelHinckley arrived in Washington on Sunday, March 29 on a Greyhound Lines bus and checked into the Park Central Hotel. He had breakfast at McDonald's the next morning, noticed Reagan's schedule on page A4 of the Washington Star, and decided it was time to act. Knowing that he might not survive shooting the president, Hinckley wrote but did not mail a letter to Foster about two hours prior to the assassination attempt, saying that he hoped to impress her with the magnitude of his action and that he would "abandon the idea of getting Reagan in a second if I could only win your heart and live out the rest of my life with you". On March 30, Reagan delivered a luncheon address to AFL-CIO representatives at the Washington Hilton Hotel; he had done well among blue-collar workers in the election, and the administration hoped to build support among "Reagan Democrats". :58 He entered the building around 1:45, waving to a crowd of news media and citizens. While the Secret Service had made Reagan wear a bulletproof vest for some events, he did not wear one for the speech as Reagan's only public exposure would be the 30 feet between the hotel and his limousine, and the agency did not require vests for its agents that day. No one saw Hinckley behave in an unusual way; witnesses who reported him as "fidgety" and "agitated" apparently confused Hinckley with another person there that the Secret Service was monitoring. The shooting At 2:27pm Eastern Time, :82 as Reagan walked out of the hotel's T Street NW exit toward his waiting limousine, Hinckley waited within the crowd of admirers. While the Secret Service extensively screened those attending the president's speech, in a "colossal mistake" the agency allowed an unscreened group to stand within 15 feet of him, behind a rope line. :80-81,225 Unexpectedly, Reagan passed right in front of Hinckley. Knowing he would never get a better chance, :81 Hinckley fired a R√∂hm RG-14 .22 cal. blue steel revolver six times in 1.7 seconds, :82 missing the president with all six shots. The first bullet hit White House Press Secretary James Brady in the head. The second hit District of Columbia police officer Thomas Delahanty in the back as he turned to protect Reagan. :82 Hinckley now had a clear shot at the president, :81 but the third overshot him and hit the window of a building across the street. As Special Agent In Charge Jerry Parr quickly pushed Reagan into the limousine, the fourth hit Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy in the abdomen as he spread his body over Reagan to make himself a target.:81 The fifth hit the bullet-resistant glass of the window on the open side door of the limousine. The sixth and final bullet ricocheted off the armored side of the limousine and hit the president in his left underarm, grazing a rib and lodging in his lung, stopping nearly an inch from his heart; had Parr hesitated for a moment, the president would likely have been hit in the head. :224 After the shooting, Alfred Antenucci, a Cleveland, Ohio labor official returning from a round of golf, and who stood by Hinckley, was the first to respond. He saw the gun and hit Hinckley in the head, pulling the shooter down to the ground. Within two seconds agent Dennis McCarthy (no relation to agent Timothy McCarthy) dived onto the shooter as others threw him to the ground; intent on protecting Hinckley to avoid what happened to Lee Harvey Oswald, :84 McCarthy had to "strike two citizens" to force them to release him. Agent Robert Wanko took an Uzi from a briefcase to cover the President's evacuation and to deter another group attack. Sixteen minutes after the assassination attempt, the ATF found that the gun had been purchased at Rocky's Pawn Shop in Dallas, Texas. It had been loaded with six "Devastator"-brand cartridges which contained small aluminum and lead azide explosive charges designed to explode on contact; the bullet that hit Brady likely exploded in his skull. On April 2, after learning that the others could explode at any time, volunteer doctors wearing bulletproof vests removed the bullet from Delahanty's neck. Public reaction The assassination attempt was captured on video by several cameras, including those belonging to the Big Three television networks; ABC began airing footage at 2:42 pm. All three networks erroneously reported that Brady had died. While the Cable News Network did not have a camera of its own at the shooting it was able to use NBC's pool feed, nd by staying on the story for 48 hours the network, less than a year old, built a reputation for thoroughness. Shocked Americans gathered around television sets in homes and shopping centers. Some cited the alleged Curse of Tippecanoe, and others recalled the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.. Newspapers printed extra editions, the United States Senate adjourned, interrupting debate of Reagan's economic proposals, and churches held prayer services. Hinckley asked the arresting officers whether that night's Academy Awards ceremony would be postponed due to the shooting, and it was; the ceremony—for which former actor Reagan had taped a message—occurred the next evening. Because the president survived surgery with a good prognosis, the 1981 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament championship game that day—in which Most Outstanding Player Isiah Thomas led Indiana to victory over North Carolina—was not postponed, although the audience of 18,000 in Philadelphia held a moment of silence before the game. The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined due to the shooting before the New York Stock Exchange closed early, but the index rose the next day as Reagan recovered. Beyond having to postpone its Academy Awards broadcast, ABC temporarily renamed the lead character of The Greatest American Hero from "Ralph Hinkley" to "Hanley", and NBC postponed a forthcoming episode of Walking Tall titled "Hit Man". Aftermath Reagan was the first serving U.S. President to survive being shot in an assassination attempt. His staff were anxious for the president to appear to be recovering quickly, and the morning after his operation he saw visitors and signed a piece of legislation. Reagan left the hospital on the 13th day. Initially, he worked two hours a day in the White House. He did not lead a Cabinet meeting until day 26, did not leave Washington until day 49, and did not hold a press conference until day 79. Ruge thought recovery was not complete until October. Reagan's plans for the month after the shooting were canceled, including a visit to the Mission Control Center at Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, in April 1981 during STS-1, the first flight of the Space Shuttle. Vice President Bush instead called the orbiting astronauts during their mission. Reagan would visit Mission Control during STS-2 that November. The attempt had great influence on Reagan's popularity; polls indicated his approval rating to be around 73%. Reagan believed that God had spared his life so that he might go on to fulfill a greater purpose and, although not a Catholic, meetings with Mother Teresa, Cardinal Terence Cooke, and fellow shooting survivor Pope John Paul II reinforced this belief. Agent Parr came to believe that God had directed his life to save Reagan, and became a pastor. :224 Reagan returned to the Oval Office on April 25, receiving a standing ovation from staff and Cabinet members; referring to their teamwork in his absence, he insisted, "I should be applauding you." His first public appearance was an April 28 speech before the joint houses of Congress to introduce his planned spending cuts, a campaign promise. He received "two thunderous standing ovations", which the New York Times deemed "a salute to his good health" as well as his programs, which the President introduced using a medical recovery theme. The two law enforcement officers recovered from their wounds, although Delahanty was forced to retire due to his injuries. The attack seriously wounded the President's Press Secretary, James Brady, who sustained a serious head wound and became permanently disabled. Brady remained as Press Secretary for the remainder of Reagan's administration, but this was primarily a titular role. Later, Brady and his wife Sarah became leading advocates of gun control and other actions to reduce the amount of gun violence in the United States. They also became active in the lobbying organization Handgun Control, Inc. – which would eventually be renamed the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence – and founded the non-profit Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act was passed in 1993 as a result of their work. The shooting of Reagan widened a debate on gun control in the U.S. that the death of John Lennon in December 1980 had started. Reagan expressed opposition to increased handgun control following Lennon's death and re-iterated his opposition after his own shooting. However in a speech at an event marking the assassination attempt's 10th anniversary, Reagan endorsed the Brady Act: "Anniversary" is a word we usually associate with happy events that we like to remember: birthdays, weddings, the first job. March 30, however, marks an anniversary I would just as soon forget, but cannot... four lives were changed forever, and all by a Saturday-night special – a cheaply made .22 caliber pistol – purchased in a Dallas pawnshop by a young man with a history of mental disturbance. This nightmare might never have happened if legislation that is before Congress now – the Brady bill – had been law back in 1981... If the passage of the Brady bill were to result in a reduction of only 10 or 15 percent of those numbers (and it could be a good deal greater), it would be well worth making it the law of the land. And there would be a lot fewer families facing anniversaries such as the Bradys, Delahantys, McCarthys and Reagans face every March 30. Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity on June 21, 1982. The defense psychiatric reports had found him to be insane[57] while the prosecution reports declared him legally sane. Following his lawyers' advice, he declined to take the stand in his own defense. Hinckley was confined at St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, D.C., where he is still being held. After his trial, he wrote that the shooting was "the greatest love offering in the history of the world", and did not indicate any regrets. The not-guilty verdict led to widespread dismay, and, as a result, the U.S. Congress and a number of states rewrote laws regarding the insanity defense. The old Model Penal Code test was replaced by a test that shifts the burden of proof of insanity from the prosecution to the defendant. Three states have abolished the defense altogether. Jodie Foster was hounded relentlessly by the media in early 1981 because she was Hinckley's target of obsession. She commented on Hinckley on three occasions: a press conference a few days after the attack, an article she wrote in 1982, and during an interview with Charlie Rose on 60 Minutes II; she has otherwise ended several interviews after the event was mentioned. The assassination attempt was portrayed in the 2001 film The Day Reagan Was Shot. James Brady's recovery was dramatized in the 1991 made-for-television film Without Warning: The James Brady Story, with Beau Bridges as Brady. Alfred Antenucci was honored at a White House State Dinner and met Reagan, who gave him cufflinks with the Presidential Seal and a Presidential Honor. In 1984, Antenucci died of a heart attack in his Garfield Heights, Ohio home. In 1985, Mayor Thomas J. Longo named a street in Garfield Heights as Antenucci Boulevard. The Garfield Heights Historical Society has the cufflinks on display. Reagan Assassination Attempt, 30 Years Later WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) -- To a lot of people, Ronald Reagan is pretty close to American royalty. Wednesday marks the 30th anniversary of the attempted assassination that helped make him an American prince. It's one of those moments burned into America's collective memory. Three decades after John Hinkley tried to assassinate President Reagan outside the Washington Hilton, retired Secret Service agent Jerry Parr says it feels like yesterday.. "I moved toward the gunfire, at the same time I was doing that, I grabbed his left should and started pushing him down by his shoulder, and my right hand went up by his neck and head and I started pushing him down." It was close in many ways. If Jerry Parr hadn't shoved the President in the limo right when he did, the next shot would likely have hit President Reagan in the head. "The instant I heard those shots, I didn't think about my family, my children and grandchildren. My only thought was cover....Save him." At first, Parr ordered the limo back to the White House... unaware that the President had been hit. "He took a napkin from his pocket, and he said, 'I think I've cut the inside of my mouth.' It was profuse, bright red and frothy. All those things indicated to me a lung injury." Parr diverted to George Washington University Medical Center. The President walked inside and collapsed. "I think he was minutes away," says Dr. Joe Giordano, who was the surgeon in charge of the ER at GW. "If he had gone to the White House, I think we would have lost him." Parr had been a Secret Service agent when John F. Kennedy was assassinated. He admits it seems a bit pathological, but he says he was constantly kept alert and motivated by playing back through his head the images from the Zapruder film of the JFK shooting. "In a democracy," I asked him, "can we keep the President completely safe?""There is no 100 percent." But Reagan's close call, his jokes in the face of death, helped connect him with the American public in a way perhaps nothing else could have. He won reelection and left office an American icon. The round that hit Reagan had skittered off the rear quarter panel of his limo, flattening out until it was as thin as a dime. It penetrated just below his armpit and stopped just an inch or so from his heart.

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